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Ukraine's air force dropped a wild video of a MiG-29 hugging the ground in a shockingly low pass

A Ukrainian Tactical Aviation pilot poses in the cockpit of his MIG-29 fighter jet at sunset on August 1, 2023, in eastern Ukraine.
A Ukrainian Tactical Aviation pilot poses in the cockpit of his MIG-29 fighter jet at sunset on August 1, 2023, in eastern Ukraine.Libkos/Getty Images
  • A new video shared by Ukraine's air force shows a MiG-29 fighter jet making a wildly low pass.

  • It's unclear what the purpose was, but in the ongoing war, Ukrainian pilots often fly low to avoid Russian radars and surface-to-air missiles.

  • Flying low has its advantages, but higher altitude is "life insurance," a former aviator said.

A wild Ukrainian air force video shows a MiG-29 fighter jet making an incredibly low airfield pass in flight, hugging the ground before soaring back up into the sky.

The video of the low pass by the Soviet-era jet was posted Thursday by the air force, but it's not clear when or where it was filmed. And the service did not say why the jet was flying this way.

The video post comes at a time when Ukrainian pilots are having to fly low, close to the earth's contours, to avoid radar detection, which is likely to be followed by surface-to-air missiles. Flying low thus has its advantages, but it's risky.

The serious threat posed by surface-to-air missile batteries on both sides of the war — from the Russian S-300s and S-400s to Ukraine's mix of Soviet and Western systems — has prevented either side from achieving air superiority. Both Russia and Ukraine are still putting aircraft in the air, but it often requires a different kind of flying at a safe remove from the front.

And there's lot of examples of low flying, though not usually as low as the video posted by Ukraine's air force.

"At very low altitudes you can terrain mask, making it difficult for radars or other systems to detect you," Guy Snodgrass, a former US naval aviator and TOPGUN instructor, told Business Insider about low flying in general. And, "if a system does detect you, the window to launch will be much narrower than at higher altitudes."

Flying low isn't necessarily more difficult, but it does require certain skills, according to Snodgrass. "Flying lower isn't necessarily harder, though it is more task intensive and requires more concentration. A majority of time is spent focusing on terrain avoidance, which reduces time available to perform higher order tasks like scanning radar, talking on the radio, or to navigate," he said.

At higher altitudes, pilots have more time to react and can more easily avoid unintentionally slamming their planes into the earth. "We always say, 'speed is life... altitude is life insurance," Snodgrass added. It's a trade-off. Flying at lower altitudes makes it harder for the enemy to detect and engage the aircraft, but it also potentially puts the plane at greater risk of a mishap.

As for the MiG in the Ukrainian air force video, it doesn't get much lower than that.

Read the original article on Business Insider